Analysis

Put It on the Line: Bengals Fall in NFL Postseason Offensive Line Rankings

Offensive Line Rankings

To rank the playoff team’s offensive line play, I watched film with an emphasis on games that were recent and against quality opponents (other playoff teams). Minor adjustments were then made based on SIS data. All rankings assume players who are questionable will play.

Some teams only moved up because other teams were eliminated. For example, the Cowboys moved up because the Ravens lost to the Bengals on Sunday night. That’s why I’ve provided detailed thoughts on what we learned from this past weekend, so there’s no doubt where I stand on the quality of these offensive lines.

>> Read: Forde’s Defensive Line Rankings 

1. Philadelphia Eagles

Last Week: 1

LT: Jordan Mailata
LG: Landon Dickerson
C: Jason Kelce
RG: Isaac Seumalo
RT: Lane Johnson

What We Thought: The Eagles have an athletic, physical group that is able to make all the blocks asked of them and finish them with an attitude.

What We Learned: The Eagles weren’t in action this week, so we didn’t get to see anything new. However, their past work speaks for itself, so there’s no reason to move them down, especially after a week to get healthier at this junction in the season.

2. San Francisco 49ers

Last week: 2

LT: Trent Williams
LG: Aaron Banks
C: Jake Brendel
RG: Spencer Burford
RT: Mike McGlinchey

What We Thought: The 49ers are athletic and create creases for their dynamic ball carriers to explode en route to one-on-one opportunities that usually favor San Francisco.

What We Learned: The 49ers’ matchup against the Seahawks helped to confirm what we’d seen on film. Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel sprang for several big runs, and Brock Purdy had plenty of time to pass. The majority of plays that Purdy felt any kind of pressure on were the result of coverage.

3. Dallas Cowboys

Last Week: 4

LT: Tyler Smith
LG: Connor McGovern
C: Tyler Biadasz
RG: Zack Martin
RT: Tyron Smith

What We Thought: The Cowboys are a physical front that has veteran leadership it can depend on in critical situations.

What We Learned: It might be surprising to read after a 31-14 win for the Cowboys, but they actually had trouble up the middle for significant portions against the Buccaneers. The Bucs do have a strong group in the defensive interior, but this might be a matchup to monitor should Dallas face another team that is strong up the middle this postseason.

That said, the Cowboys seemed to adjust their gameplan when they saw nothing was there up the middle and torched the Buccaneers getting to the edge. There is enough good here to outweigh the bad and hold the Cowboys in third position in these rankings.

4. Kansas City Chiefs

Last Week: 5

LT: Orlando Brown Jr.
LG: Joe Thuney
C: Creed Humphrey
RG: Trey Smith
RT: Andrew Wylie

What We Thought: The Chiefs give their franchise quarterback time to throw and make the improvisations that make him so special and is capable of successfully running the ball, especially in the 4-minute drill to ice games.

What We Learned: With the Chiefs on bye, all we know is they got a chance to heal up any ailments, no matter the size, that might have been bothering them. They hold steady in the fourth spot.

5. Buffalo Bills

Last Week: 6

LT: Dion Dawkins
LG: Rodger Saffold
C: Mitch Morse
RG: Ryan Bates
RT: Spencer Brown

What We Thought: Josh Allen helps the OL because of the way defenses are forced to account for his skill set, and it is able to make the blocks that it is asked to make.

What We Learned: The Bills allowed Allen enough time to take shots downfield on several occasions, but Allen was also pressured and made to move off of his spot with a degree of regularity.

On top of that, the running game left much to be desired. It was a tough outing in a matchup that should have been easier relative than any they’ll see for the remainder of any playoff run they make.

6. New York Giants

Last Week: 13

LT: Andrew Thomas
LG: Nick Gates
C: Jon Feliciano
RG: Mark Glowinski
RT: Evan Neal

What We Thought: The Giants struggle on the interior, specifically against power players. They also have busts in their blitz pickups, allowing free rushers more than you’d like to see.

What We Learned: The Giants are the biggest movers this week thanks to a strong performance as an underdog against the Vikings. I don’t want to get aggressive and overreact to one game, but what we saw last weekend was promising. They looked good in the run game, getting pullers out in front and paving the way for Saquon Barkley.

Additionally, Daniel Jones had plenty of time to decide whether he wanted to pass or tuck and run, which allowed him to do both well. With another performance like this against the Eagles, they could move up even further next week.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars

Last Week: 8

LT: Walker Little
LG: Tyler Shatley
C: Luke Fortner
RG: Brandon Scherff
RT: Jawaan Taylor

What We Thought: The Jaguars don’t do anything that jumps out at you as being special, but they do everything well enough to have success as a team.

What We Learned: Trevor Lawrence was pressured early on during the horrific start that the team had against the Chargers. He turned it around during that unforgettable second-half comeback.

The Jaguars were able to utilize the quick pass game to help, and they found a bit of a groove in the running game as well. Once they were able to sustain these drives, they started finishing in the end zone rather than in the opponent’s hands.

8. Cincinnati Bengals

Last Week: 9

LT: D’Ante Smith

LG: Cordell Volson

C: Ted Karras

RG: Max Scharping

RT: Hakeem Adeniji

What We Thought: The Bengals are a group that has coalesced during the season and have had much better performances, though they have a weak link at the most critical spot on the line at LT.

What We Learned: The Bengals just aren’t able to stay healthy up front. Williams went down, and while they ultimately got the job done, it’s tough to imagine them being able to handle many more injuries along the offensive line. Though Scharping, Alex Cappa’s backup, played well in particular, the unit left a lot to be desired, especially once missing Williams.

Joe Burrow was forced off the spot quite a few times but was able to extend plays with his legs to help him find his receivers downfield. The situation on the line is somewhat reminiscent of the Chiefs team a couple of years ago that went into Super Bowl LV with an injury-depleted offensive line and got throttled by a team that had the talent to exploit that.

Matchup Advantages

Jaguars vs. Chiefs

Advantage: Chiefs

After getting bullied by Tampa Bay in the Super Bowl two years ago, Kansas City went back to the drawing board and has drawn up a competitive offensive line group, using large amounts of cash and draft capital. Since both teams can apply the pressure when leading, this offensive line improvement is key in giving the Chiefs the edge.

Something to watch for: Look for the Jaguars to use the screen pass to slow down Kansas City’s pass rush and in particular Jones. He has the ability to wreck the Jaguars’ game plan, but effective screens can cause a little hesitation for defensive linemen like Jones, which could give Jacksonville an edge at a crucial point in the game. 

Giants vs. Eagles

Advantage: Eagles

The Eagles find themselves in the top three of both my offensive line and defensive line rankings, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise I have them with the advantage. The Giants’ defensive line does seem to be firing on all cylinders right now, but the Eagles have what they need to douse that fire in this NFC East battle. 

Something to watch for: Look for the Eagles to control and attack the Giants’ edges in the run game. It’s where they have the biggest advantage, and it’s one I expect them to try to exploit early and often. 

Bengals vs. Bills

Advantage: Bills

I’d probably favor the Bills in this matchup anyway, but with the Bengals hurting for bodies on the offensive front this one is a clear decision for the Bills. Cincinnati will be without both Jonah Williams and Cappa this week, forcing them to start two backups. 

Something to watch for: The Bengals will try to cover up any deficiencies on the offensive front by moving the pocket. While Burrow isn’t known as the most mobile guy, he’s more than capable of extending plays with his legs to buy a little bit more time to find his weapons downfield. 

Cowboys vs. 49ers

Advantage: 49ers

The edge in this matchup is razor-thin and could almost be called a coin toss as both teams have top-tier units on either side of the trenches. That said, I give a slight edge to the 49ers. The Cowboys’ offensive interior played well against Tampa Bay, but they can’t count on consistently winning on the perimeter against the 49ers due to their superior edge defenders. 

Something to watch for: Two heavyweights throwing haymakers at each other for 60 minutes. Parsons and Trent Williams are two of the best at their respective positions in the NFL. This will be a fun one for any neutral observer that can appreciate the big fellas. 

If you’re looking for something beyond casual enjoyment, look for Parsons and Bosa to travel around the defensive formation in third and medium to long situations. The defense can dictate matchups, and rather than stalemating against the opposing team’s stud offensive tackle, they’ll look to get them in favorable situations, whether by original alignment or by a stunt.

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